Purple Prairie Clover


Purple Prairie Clover is a versatile legume used for erosion control, wildlife habitat enhancement, livestock grazing, and landscaping.   A native species of the Great Plains, it is found throughout most of the U.S. and southern Canada but is absent from the east and west coasts.  Like other legumes, with the aid of certain bacteria Purple Prairie Clover captures atmospheric nitrogen.  If dead plant materials are left on the ground they add nitrogen to the soil as they decay.

Purple Prairie Clover develops a deep tap root, which makes it tolerant of heat, drought, and prescribed burns.  The deep tap root also makes it a valuable component of erosion-control mixes.  Because a young plant pours most of its energy into developing this root, the above-ground portion of the plant is slow to establish.  Young plants typically have one stem, and develop multiple stems originating from the same root as they mature.

Purple Prairie Clover provides browse for pronghorn antelope, its flowers attract a wide variety of insects that feed on the pollen and nectar, and its seeds are consumed by birds and small mammals.   Particularly early in the growing season, Purple Prairie Clover has a high protein content that makes it nutritious and palatable to livestock, especially sheep and goats.  In rare instances it can produce bloat, so grazing should be carefully managed.  Also, the plants will not tolerate heavy grazing.

Purple Prairie Clover’s cylindrical purple flowers flecked with gold anthers make a colorful addition to a low-maintenance landscaping.  Although it prefers well drained soil, it will tolerate clay and alkalinity.   It does not respond well to disturbance once established, so root division is not recommended.  Seeds should be planted 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep.


Additional Information


Southwest Seed is happy to help. Please feel free to call or email us for more information about our products and services. Before you get in touch, you might take a look at our Planning Guide. It has information that you can gather prior to contacting us so that we can efficiently answer your questions.